Community Parks Initiative Expands While Inaugural 35 Sites Break Ground
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, announced the addition of nine new parks to the portfolio of sites in line to receive full reconstruction through the Community Parks Initiative (CPI) – a citywide program launched in 2014 improving historically under-funded parks in densely populated and growing neighborhoods with higher-than-average concentrations of poverty. Through Mayoral funding, CPI is investing $285 million in capital dollars – along with a sustained annual commitment of more than $2.5 million in expense funding – to improve neighborhoods’ quality of life by revitalizing more than 60 smaller community parks that have not undergone significant improvements in decades.
The Community Parks Initiative is NYC Parks' first major equity initiative and part of oneNYC, the mayor’s plan for a just and strong New York City. After its 2014 launch, CPI funding was doubled by the Mayor in 2015.
“At its core, the Community Parks Initiative is about making good on our promise of a strong, equitable city, giving once-overlooked neighborhood parks the resources they need to become true focal points of community life,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “With more than 60 parks receiving full transformations – and targeted improvements and enhanced programming in more than 100 additional sites – CPI is a sustained commitment to high quality parks that serve all New Yorkers.”
“All around the city, parks act as meeting spaces that serve a variety of needs in our communities,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The Community Parks Initiative targets the most underfunded parks to ensure that they are reinvigorated, and better equipped to offer their local residents a safe, clean and welcoming place to gather and play. For those in my own district, Playground 134 will become a revitalized neighborhood hub. I commend Mayor de Blasio and Parks Commissioner Silver for their work on bringing improved park space to New Yorkers across the city.”
“For health, for relaxation, and for happiness, great neighborhoods need the great neighborhood spaces the Community Parks Initiative creates” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “This is why CPI is not only an investment in parks – it’s an investment in the wellbeing of millions of New Yorkers for generations to come.”
The following nine parks have been identified for the 2017 CPI site expansion:
· Garrison Playground
· Playground 174
· Playground 134
· Plimpton Playground
· La Guardia Playground
· Weeksville Playground
· Abraham Lincoln Playground
· Audubon Playground
· Almeda Playground
Since Mayor de Blasio and Parks Commissioner Silver committed to create a more equitable park system at the 2014 CPI launch, neighborhoods across the city have benefitted from immediate, high impact improvements—47 parks have begun the overall capital reconstruction process on time and on budget. The inaugural 35 CPI sites have completed design and have begun breaking ground for construction across the five boroughs; most recently DeMatti Playground and Arrochar Playground in Staten Island. The 12 parks announced in 2015 are in design, with final designs expected in spring 2017. In addition to the nine new sites announced, more parks will be added next year.
CPI also includes ongoing Targeted Improvements – high-impact, fast-action enhancements such as new pavements for basketball courts, new plantings, and aesthetic improvements. Since 2014, 85 CPI neighborhood playgrounds have been identified for these improvements; 60 completed in 2015, and 25 are on track for completion this fall. Last year’s additional funding also allows the Targeted Improvements program to continue, with 25 additional sites to be completed over the next 12 months.
In addition to CPI’s capital investment in neighborhood parks, the initiative has an impact on these neighborhoods through community partnership building, park programming, enhanced sustainability, and operating support. Through funding from the City Council, The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and NYC Housing Preservation & Development (HPD); in-kind donations from park conservancies; and community engagement — through partners including City Parks Foundation, New York Road Runners, the Public Theater, the Uni Project and El Museo del Barrio — resources are allocated across critical categories including community outreach, recreational programming, green infrastructure, and park maintenance.
“New Yorkers in every neighborhood deserve first-rate local parks and playgrounds,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I’m pleased that through this initiative, two additional playgrounds in Harlem and Washington Heights will be transformed, and I look forward to seeing gleaming new play equipment and landscaping at these playgrounds soon.”
Congressman Jose E. Serrano stated: “As a longtime advocate and champion of expanding access to green spaces in urban areas, I’m glad that Mayor de Blasio has decided to expand the Parks Equity initiative and invest millions more in the reconstruction of dozens of small community parks in neglected neighborhoods, including 4 in the Bronx. Thanks to this effort, Bronxites will be able to enjoy a better quality of life by having access to more recreational areas where they can relax with family, friends or by themselves.
State Senator Jose M. Serrano stated: “Our local parks and playgrounds provide a vital source for recreation while improving the health of our community. The reconstruction of Plimpton Playground, Garrison Playground, and Playground 134 will ensure a fun and healthy outlet for the youth in our neighborhoods. Many thanks to Mayor de Blasio and Parks Commissioner Silver for their commitment to our local green spaces."
“The proposed upgrades for Plimpton Playground will enhance the park as a great escape for families living near Plimpton Avenue, West 172nd Street and Edward L. Grant Highway in my district,” said Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner (D-Bronx, 77th AD). “Now, with this investment from Mayor de Blasio and NYC Parks Commissioner Silver, the Community Parks Initiative will infuse Plimpton Playground and other similarly under-funded and overlooked neighborhood parks like it in the Bronx and across the City with much needed improvements that can help ensure families in our community are granted access to superb parks that are built to last for generations. These investments will improve the quality of life for my constituents and ensure the community has a say in what their local neighborhood park should look like.”
"New York City’s small parks and playgrounds are the under-appreciated jewels of our park system. But too many have languished for decades without adequate upgrades and renovations--especially in our low- and moderate income neighborhoods,” said Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the Committee on Parks. "The Community Parks Initiative has injected new life into dozens of these special places already, and I am thrilled that nine more parks will now be receiving similar investments.”
"I applaud the de Blasio administration for incorporating Playground 174 in my district through the Community Parks Initiative. For too long, parks domiciled in economically underserved communities have been overlooked, eventually transitioning into a perpetual state of disrepair. This initiative is an encouraging step in the right direction. I look forward to witnessing the constituents I represent partake in all of the forthcoming improvements," said Council Member Annabel Palma.
“I’m incredibly pleased to see such a commitment to making real investments into our parks and playgrounds, specifically the Garrison Playground in the South Bronx,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr. “Often we forget what a difference quality greenspace makes to a community, particularly communities that struggle with high poverty, which is why today’s announcement is so important.”
With the Manhattan Bororough President and several Bronx elected officials named, one has to wonder where is the name of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
For additional information on the Community Parks Initiative, please visit nyc.gov/parks.